Saturday, March 03, 2007

Three Years Later, Bush Shocked by Veterans Scandal

After three years of not paying much attention to one scandal after another in the treatment of returning soldiers from Iraq and veterans in general and the failure to provide armor, equipment, down time, adequate resources for problems like PTSS for those serving in Bush's unnecessary war in Iraq, the president finally notices the Walter Reed scandal. Paul Harris of The Observer/Guardian has the story:
President Bush was forced to pledge tough action yesterday to deal with a growing scandal over the poor treatment of wounded Iraq war veterans, which has led to a series of military resignations.

The furore has centred on conditions at the Walter Reed hospital in Washington, DC, which is considered the best military facility of its kind in America. However, revelations in the Washington Post last week revealed dilapidated conditions at several buildings used to house military outpatients.


... The hospital is a favoured stop for any politician wishing to show solidarity with the troops and has been visited by many senior figures from both parties. Bush himself has visited Walter Reed several times. Yet, as White House spokesman Tony Snow has been forced to admit, he first learnt of the problems there from the media.

Harris tries to be 'objective' by saying that there are problems that have been overlooked by both parties but Democrats have been in the forefront of trying to correct problems that those returning from Bush's wars have been facing and pushing for resolution to any number of other problems. For over three years, Republicans who controlled Congress until six weeks ago, refused to adequately budget resources for returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan and have not done a good job of providing full services to veterans.

Bush and his fellow Republicans also gave short shrift to returning members of the National Guard. Some of these problems were initially fixed, thanks to Democrats and bloggers raising the issues, but it seems every time the media turns off the cameras, the system breaks down even further.

A major problem is the privatization of some services for soldiers and the reality of money being diverted for other things, including salaries and profits. Privatization is a big thing for Republicans and a significant source of crony payback. There has also been suspicion that some money has been diverted by the Pentagon for purposes overseas that they don't want Congress to know about.

Bush, of course, is back in his photo ops mode and will surely tell us that no one cares more about our fighting soldiers and veterans than he does. Congress needs to investigate and Republicans should avoid their usual song and dance with the purpose of obstructing the investigations to give the Pentagon and the president political cover.

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